Technofreak’s HTC One: music, weather, browsers

, posted: 3-Jun-2013 16:42

I’ve had the HTC One for just over four weeks now. Last week I got a chance to put the music player to use while I was flying to a meeting. It works very well and my Blackbox C20 noise cancelling ear buds did an excellent job of removing the background drone. I put the Beats Audio feature to the test but in the end I found the music sounded better with Beats Audio switched off.

Loading the music onto the phone as very straight forward, it’s just a matter of connecting the phone to your PC via a USB cable and opening up the file manager, locate the HTC Internal storage and copy the music files across. The music can also be copied using HTC Sync Manager except that won’t run on my laptop for some reason. Please note I’m not suggesting copying music you don’t own the original copy of.

You can choose songs by artist, album, genre etc. The music player app automatically sorts the genre for you and also finds the album art for each album. One cool feature is being able to follow the lyrics on the screen (using the Grace Note Media database - data connection required) along with a “screen saver” pulsing away to the music. The words are not displayed for all songs so I guess they’re not all in the database. The screensaver and words only display in landscape mode. As you might expect the screen stays live for the duration you have this feature active and there is a high battery drain as a result.



Above is a screen shot from the music player showing the words to a song, with each line highlighted as these words are sung.

The sound that comes from the stereo speakers is very good and certainly better than any other phone I’ve used, the next best being the Nokia 5800XM which was sold as a media phone and also has stereo speakers too.

Looking at the calendar now, the standard calendar app lacks some of the features I’ve become used to. The main one being the agenda preview pane in month or week view. There is an agenda view, but you have to open it for each day and if you want to see what’s happening on another day you have go back and select either week or month view to select the day then go back to agenda. You can swipe across the screen (left to right to go forward, right to left to go back) to select the next month, week, day or agenda view, which is fine to get to an agenda view for a day or two either way from the day you’re on otherwise it’s a bit cumbersome. Having a preview pane would be much better.

One major problem I’ve had is being able to sync directly with Outlook on my PC. With the issues I’ve had with HTC Sync Manager I’ve gone to using Exchange Active sync and Outlook.com. This has had pluses and minuses. The major minus is there is no syncing of Outlook Notes, something I use quite a bit. However the up side is the virtually real time syncing of all the calendars on my various devices which is really nice, there being no need to actively carry out a sync as the sync happens automatically. However I suspect I’ll go back to syncing directly with Outlook on my PC as soon as I am able so I can keep Outlook Notes synced.

Weather

The OEM weather app, AccuWeather, works well using the GPS to provide the weather forecast for you current location and integrates well with the various widgets. The best widget supplied with the phone is the weather clock.



However the version of AccuWeather on the HTC One lacks the features and panache of other OEM versions of AccuWeather. One thing I’m noticing with the HTC One is that you get the base version of an app and if you want anything more you need to purchase the upgraded version or buy another app to get the experience you get as standard on other devices. I don’t know if this is just an HTC thing or a Google thing.

 

Above is an example comparing the HTC One (left) with the N9 (right). For the daily view the HTC only gives temperature and cloud/sun info on a black and white screen whereas the N9 also gives wind direction and strength and rainfall, and dragging thre orange dot across the screen displays all the data at the chosen time of day. The dial with the red pointer shows wind direction. Also there is a weather radar screen on the N9 AccuWeather app which isn’t present on the HTC One version. Overall the HTC version is pretty basic in comparison.

Web Browsers

I’ve tried out various browsers on the HTC One. Surprisingly to me at least, with the HTC One being an Android device, Chrome is not the default browser. I have almost never used the default browser on any device I have owned, and while default browser on the HTC One does a pretty good job, I promptly installed Opera Mobile since it and its predecessors have been my browser of choice for many years now. Since installing Opera Mobile a new version of for Android has been put on the Play Store, it just called Opera. It incorporates all of the features of Opera Mobile. I’m impressed so far with the new version though it had a few syncing problems for the first few days after release last week.

The main reason why I have used Opera Mobile for so long, and now Opera on the HTC One, is that you have always been able to sync your bookmarks and favourites with your Opera account. This was the first or one of the first browsers offering this feature. This means every time you get a new device or do a factory reset it’s very simple to get all of you favourites onto the device.

A couple of other features I like with Opera is the data compression function that you can enable to save 3G data, it’s called “Off-Road mode” in the new version, it used to be called Opera Turbo. One other feature I use a lot is saving a page onto the device for viewing off line later. Also Opera provides the option of text wrapping something that not all other browsers do. For me at least it is a well featured browser which provides fast rendition of web pages.

The other browsers I’ve tried are;
  • Default HTC browser – as I’ve already said it does a pretty good job but lacks some features of Opera, certainly good enough as a stock standard browser. It reminds me as bit of Chrome, but at least it does allow text wrapping.
  • Chrome – It is nice to use and has good features but there is no test wrapping which for my eyes is a must as I do need to zoom the text on many web pages.
  • Dolphin Beta - I found it to be very jerky and not nice to use at all, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it
  • Boat Browser- I found to be a very good browser though I haven’t used it extensively. My impressions of it though it is a well featured browser and I would certainly consider it as my first choice browser if I wasn’t using Opera. Needless to say it supports text wrapping.
The next blog post will be my wrap up giving a summary of my experience with the HTC One over the past few weeks.

About the author

My name is Alan. I’ve been a Geekzone member for almost eight years (as Technofreak) and have enjoyed contributing and helping people on the site and have also gained a lot of help here myself at the same time. My involvement with technology goes back to another life when I was a Technician for NZPO/Telecom. I still remember the first cellphone I used, a Panasonic, which was the size of a handbag. I was an avid user of Palm handhelds for many years, having owned a 515, a T5 and a TX, all fantastic devices, I only recently pensioned off the TX.  These days I find smartphones extremely useful devices for keeping me in touch, especially being out and about with my job. The HTC One is the first real foray into the world of Android for me, it going to be an interesting and learning experience.

Other related posts:
Technofreak’s HTC One: final thoughts
Brad’s root guide for the HTC One
Brad’s HTC One reviews: camera






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